The Daily Planet turned two years old on May 1, marking two years of constant growth and change. Our front page changes daily, featuring an average of eight to ten stories from community media partners and citizen journalists. New media tools range from Google maps to Twitter, offering increasing interactivity for our growing community of readers, writers and viewers.
Our coverage of Dakota protests of the sesquicentennial wagon train shows how far the Twin Cities Daily Planet has grown in our first two years. The sesquicentennial was on the story list that is shared with Daily Planet citizen journalists in weekly meetings, but no one was inspired to propose a story.
Late last Thursday afternoon (May 8), an e-mail from Scott DeMuth announced a weekend schedule for Dakota protests to “begin a campaign of truth-telling about the history Minnesota will ignore.” Friday morning, I e-mailed this to our free-lance list, asking if anyone was available to write about the protests.
On Friday afternoon, Kathlyn Stone e-mailed. While traveling, she saw the sesquicentennial wagon train on Highway 61 and stopped to take some photos. Adding a few paragraphs of narrative and a link to the on-line wagon train schedule, she sent the package to the Daily Planet. The photos went up Friday night as a slideshow in our multi-media box.
Around noon on Saturday, my cell phone rang. Scott Russell wanted to know if anyone else had picked up the Dakota protest story. No one had, so he headed out into the rain.
Saturday evening, as I worked on Sunday’s Daily Planet posting, Scott DeMuth’s second press release arrived, with links to photos and video. As a matter of policy, we don’t print press releases, but I thought the photos would be a good continuation of the wagon train slide show, and worked on re-formatting six of them and pulling quotes from the press release for captions. A phone call to Scott got assurances that he was working on the story and would have it by Sunday morning, so I put a paragraph promising a story on the front page, and went to bed. Sunday morning, the story was in my e-mail box, and it was up and ready to read by 8:00 a.m.
What makes this a good birthday story for the Daily Planet is the convergence of relationships and local ties that got the story to the front page. Scott Russell and Kathlyn Stone are both part of our network of free-lance writers/citizen journalists, in contact through meetings and e-mails. Over the past year, that network has grown to a list of more than 60 people. (If you’d like to find out more, or to participate as a citizen journalist, you can find more information at Open Newsroom—Citizen Journalism.)
The Daily Planet multi-media box—where we first published the photos and captions telling the intersecting stories—is a cool, new feature that provides space for photos, slide shows and video. We invite anyone to contribute, and are slowly beginning to get a variety of community contributions, even as we continue to work out a few technical glitches. Check it out in Column 3.
On-line tools and toys added or improved in recent months include:
• Google maps show locations for stories, events and attractions, appearing on the front page, neighborhood pages, and attraction pages.
• Interactive review pages gave movie buffs the opportunity to rate and review each film at the MSP International Film Festival. Now that the festival is over, check out the pages as you choose your summer videos.
• Our Twitter page shows the latest articles and updates. If you’re a Twitter user, follow tcdailyplanet.
• An interactive Twin Cities attractions section, where you can add your favorite music venue, coffee shop, bookstore … the possibilities are endless. Choose a type of attraction to see the list and map. Click on “Contribute News” at the top of any page and add your own favorite.
• Our post-your-own calendar is still running, while we work on technical updates to handle the increasing volume of events. Look for ways to sort by event type and location and Gmaps in the near future.
• The Free Speech Zone provides a place for unedited reports and opinion, from all shades of the political spectrum. Recent entries include a spirited defense of the mixed martial arts combat and a thoughtful essay about the endangered Hmong language.
Inside the Daily Planet, neighborhood pages offer the latest community news and events, including news posted directly by you, your neighbors and your community organizations.
Your participation remains the key to the Daily Planet’s continuing growth. We want your stories, your photos, your events, your participation and support. We pledge to continue in our endeavor “to harness that community intelligence and enable individuals to share information and work together for the common good.”